‘I know I’m Irish and I don’t have to prove that to anybody’

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, Media Archive on 2022-05-12 21:14Z by Steven

‘I know I’m Irish and I don’t have to prove that to anybody’

The Irish Times

Sorcha Pollak, Immigration Reporter

Marguerite Penrose has written a memoir called Yeah, But Where are You Really From? Photograph: Alan Betson

Growing up as a black person with a disability in Dublin, Marguerite Penrose sensed her difference

On June 9th 2020, one week after thousands of young Irish people marched through the streets of Dublin calling for an end to racism and inequality, a new post appeared on the recently established Black and Irish Instagram page.

“My name is Marguerite. I was born in Dublin in 1974. I am a PROUD Irish/Zambian, living in Meath now.”

Marguerite Penrose had never spoken or written publicly about her background. She preferred not to dwell on the first three years of her life which she spent in a mother and baby home on the Navan Road, or her battles with scoliosis throughout her life. She didn’t like remembering the racist remarks outside nightclubs or disapproving stares on the bus. She preferred focusing on the positives – her incredible adopted family and her wonderful friends.

But then she decided to speak out about growing up as a black woman with a disability in Dublin…

Read the entire article here.

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Passing review: Ruth Negga may well get another Oscar nomination

Posted in Articles, Arts, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-10-30 01:34Z by Steven

Passing review: Ruth Negga may well get another Oscar nomination

The Irish Times

Donald Clarke, Chief Film Correspondent

Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson in Passing

Film Title: Passing
Director: Rebecca Hall
Starring: Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland, Bill Camp, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, Alexander Skarsgård
Genre: Drama
Running Time: 98 min

This delicately observed portrait of racial dynamics is worth seeing in the cinema

If you sat down unsure whether you were being taken to another time, the gauzy monochrome and 4:3 aspect ratio would go some way to alleviating any doubt. Rebecca Hall’s take on a key African-American novel shrugs off its modest budget to offer a convincingly transportive vision of Harlem in the 1920s. Marci Rodgers’s costumes capture the prohibition lines without resorting to catwalky inverted-commas. The piano-heavy score from Devonté Hynes leans ever-so-gently on the bridge between ragtime and less jaunty sounds to come.

There is, of course, no reason to set Passing at any other time. Nella Larsen’s book is hardly buried in ancient obscurity. But it is still worth pointing towards the calendar. Any contemporary study of a black woman “passing” for white would move out under very different winds. When largely sympathetic characters here twig that Clare (Ruth Negga), a Chicagoan now married to an unsuspecting white jerk (Alexander Skarsgård), has taken on a Caucasian identity, there is variously surprise, irritation, curiosity, but little sense of shock and nothing you would call outrage. That last emotion is left for the racists. Passing is no longer such an everyday business as it once was (which is not to suggest it doesn’t happen). Any film dealing with such a story in the 21st century would necessarily play at a higher temperature. Hall’s decision to cut a late, explosive use of the N-word in the journey from novel to screenplay – though another remains – confirms how the dynamics have altered…

Read the entire review here.

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In Irish orphanages, being ‘coloured’ was a defect. I wish Mam had lived to see Black Lives Matter

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Europe, Media Archive on 2020-07-05 20:03Z by Steven

In Irish orphanages, being ‘coloured’ was a defect. I wish Mam had lived to see Black Lives Matter

The Irish Times

Jess Kavanagh

Jess Kavanagh with Lorraine Maher of I Am Irish

Black Irish Lives: Multiculturalism is seen as new. But Ireland has generations of mixed-race people

I’m not a fan of weddings, but I made sure not to miss my cousin Jamie’s big day. Jamie and I always got along; racially ambiguous like myself, he looks more indigenous Latin American via Dublin 3 but is actually southeast Asian-Italian. After the wedding another cousin, annoyed at her lack of an invitation to the dinner, is spitting some low-grade venom as I roll a cigarette. I tune in at the worst moment.

“I don’t know why anyone ever told you your grandfather was a doctor. He was a sailor – and everyone knew that.”

I’m taken aback. I don’t react. If you’ve experienced racism you know this moment: a surreal outburst, wildly out of context. It happens so quickly you tend to be left feeling only confusion and mild amusement. The rage creeps in hours, maybe days later.

My biological grandfather was a Nigerian medical student and my biological grandmother was a nurse when they met. The story of their affair changes. Until I was in my 20s I was told he was a student at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland when they met, but that has shifted at times to them meeting in the UK. My mother was adopted as a newborn from a religious-run institution in Blackrock, Co Dublin, and my aunts and uncles – Nigerian-Irish, Indian-Irish, Filipino-Italian and North African-Irish – were also adopted as babies…

Read the entire article here.

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First Encounters: Chi-Chi Nwanoku and Keith Pascoe

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-12-20 23:02Z by Steven

First Encounters: Chi-Chi Nwanoku and Keith Pascoe

The Irish Times

Frances O’Rourke

Chi-Chi Nwanoku

‘Ireland brought us back together’

Chi-Chi Nwanoku is a double bassist and a founder member of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. The eldest of five children of a Nigerian father and an Irish mother, she pursued a career in music after injury ended a promising athletics career. She grew up in Kent and Berkshire and now lives in London

The first time I saw Keith was when we were college students in our early 20s. He seemed incredibly composed, confident, like a good fun guy – he had a mischievous twinkle in his eye which I liked. We weren’t in each other’s social circles but I registered Keith as a kindred spirit.

I’d only started playing the double bass when I was 18, after an athletics injury. When I came out of hospital, my A Levels music teacher said, you have music coursing through your veins – now that your sprinting career is over, if you pick an unpopular orchestral instrument, you could just possibly have a career. I’d played piano since I was seven but I’d never played in an orchestra before. A few years later I got into the Royal Academy of Music

…I had been in Ireland just once before when I’d taken my mother there in 1986. She hadn’t been back to Ireland in 36 years, didn’t know how she’d be received: she was born in Cappamore in Limerick, grew up in Thurles, but was kind of abandoned by her family after she met and married my father, an Igbo from east Nigeria, in London. We grew up with lots of wonderful stories and memories that she gave us but she had a very very tough time. In London in the 1950s, it was “no blacks, no Irish, no dogs” – it was as much as my parents could do to find a roof over their heads…

Read the entire article here.

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Being Irish, mixed race and living abroad: it’s complicated

Posted in Articles, Arts, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-12-03 22:06Z by Steven

Being Irish, mixed race and living abroad: it’s complicated

The Irish Times

Conrad Bryan, Treasurer
Irish in Britain

A scene from Hashtag Lightie, playing at the Arcola Theatre in north London.

London play ‘Hashtag Lightie’ puts the spotlight on mixed-race identity

I live in London, a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. It is a place where anything goes and where people of different ethnicities have always mixed, loved and married.

However, today the binary black and white notion of race is being challenged by the younger generation. They are choosing for themselves where they sit on the colour spectrum and how they self-identify. No longer will they accept other people labelling them.

Many are choosing to self-identify as mixed-race rather than black, which is causing a real debate in the black community here. This has many consequences for individuals struggling to determine where they fit in society, or what side to take…

Read the entire article here.

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“The only heritage I ever had was Irish heritage.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2016-10-08 02:00Z by Steven

“I’m mixed race. I identify as a black woman from Ireland, who is quite pale,” she laughs. “The only heritage I ever had was Irish heritage.” [Lorraine] Maher is aware of her other ancestry, “but it is not important at the moment for me”, she says…

Anthea McTeirnan, “‘Growing up in Ireland I was the only black person’,” The Irish Times, September 30, 2016. http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/growing-up-in-ireland-i-was-the-only-black-person-1.2807492.

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‘Growing up in Ireland I was the only black person’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-09-30 14:28Z by Steven

‘Growing up in Ireland I was the only black person’

The Irish Times

Anthea McTeirnan

Lorraine Maher, aged nine and today, who is curating the exhibition of photos of mixed-race Irish people at the London Irish Centre in Camden.

A new exhibition in London challenges the perceptions of what Irish people look like

Lorraine Maher’s son Aaron died from cancer two years ago. Aaron, who along with his brothers, Dwayne, Darnel and Rù-ffel, had visited his mother’s homeplace in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, many times and met his Irish family often, was proud to be Irish. Aaron would have chosen to play soccer for the Republic of Ireland, no doubt about that. He was also a fervent Tipperary supporter.

Maher visits his grave often.

“In the graveyard in London, he has his Irish flag and his Tipperary flag on his grave with his St Lucia flag.”

His dad is from St Lucia, and Aaron was proud of his dual heritage.

Aaron’s photograph is on his gravestone, too. “I see people looking at the grave like they are thinking: what has Ireland got to do with him?”

But Aaron was proud of his Irishness, she says. “He had two heritages and both made him proud.”

Even though it is now more common in Britain to use the term “dual heritage” rather than “mixed race”, Maher is not completely sold on the newer description.

“It is challenging because my only heritage is Irish,” she says. “So that is what the conversation I wanted to have is about. For mixed-race Irish people our ancestry, our roots, our blood are Irish.”…

…Maher was never an “immigrant”. She grew up in 1960s-1970s Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, where she was the only black person she knew. After Presentation Convent Primary, she moved to Scoil Mhuire in Greenhill.

“I’m mixed race. I identify as a black woman from Ireland, who is quite pale,” she laughs. “The only heritage I ever had was Irish heritage.” Maher is aware of her other ancestry, “but it is not important at the moment for me”, she says…

Read the entire article here.

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Tim Brannigan, a real black Irish republican

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-05-29 01:19Z by Steven

Tim Brannigan, a real black Irish republican

The Irish Times
Dublin, Ireland

Fionola Meredith

When Tim Brannigan was born his mother persuaded a doctor to declare him a stillbirth. Then she gave him to an orphanage – coming back a year later to ‘adopt’ the son she couldn’t admit she’d had. After that he had a normal IRAsafe-house childhood

When Tim Brannigan was 19 he found out who he really was. Growing up as a black kid in 1970s west Belfast, he already knew he was different. He had been adopted as a baby, he believed. But it turned out the person who “adopted” him was his own mother, Peggy. As he tells it in his memoir, Where Are You Really From?, it is an extraordinary narrative of secrecy, desperation and deep, unbreakable devotion, played out against the flaming backdrop of the Troubles. So perhaps it isn’t surprising that Hollywood can see its cinematic potential. Brannigan recently sold the film rights to his life story to the Oscar-winning producer John Lesher, and scripting will soon be under way.

“Mum told me everything on July 13th, 1985,” Brannigan says. He remembers the date clearly because it was the day of Live Aid, Bob Geldof’s televised music fundraiser for famine relief in Ethiopia. The family had decamped to an uncle’s holiday house in Cushendall, Co Antrim, to escape the Twelfth parades in Belfast. “The drink was flowing, and my mum was sitting there with a glass in her hand,” says Brannigan. “She started asking me what I wanted to do when I got my A levels. Suddenly she said, ‘Your father was a doctor.’”

That didn’t make sense. As far as Tim knew his adoptive father was Tom Brannigan, a delivery man and sometime showband singer, whom he describes as a chancer. “He had plenty of opportunities to fly his kite, and he did.”

“Get ready,” Peggy said. “First of all, you’re not adopted.” Shocked, Tim began to weep. “Don’t cry,” his mother whispered. “People will think I’m shouting at you. And don’t tell them, or I’ll bust your face!”…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed Race Irish: ‘We were the dust to be swept away’

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive, Religion, Social Work on 2015-07-19 16:56Z by Steven

Mixed Race Irish: ‘We were the dust to be swept away’

The Irish Times

Kitty Holland, Staff Reporter

‘I lived in a state of pure terror’: Rosemary Adaser, co-founder of the group Mixed Race Irish. Photograph: Joanne O’Brien

Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation urged to confront the racism endured by children taken into care and abused because they had a non-white parent

In October 1958, when Rosemary Adaser was admitted, as an 18-month-old, to a mother-and-baby home in Dublin, her admission notes described her as “illegitimate and coloured”. Fifteen years later, when she was pregnant and sent to a mother-and-baby home in Co Meath, they described her as “rather mature for her age; accepts her colour well”.

“My file is peppered with references to my colour,” she says. “The racism was relentless and brutalising. My formative years were devastated by it.”

Adaser is one of about 70 mixed-race people who have come together in the past few years as Mixed Race Irish, a campaign and support group. They believe they were taken into care because they were mixed race, that there was a different unspoken “policy” for them and that they suffered an “extra layer of abuse” because of their racial identity. They say racism was endemic, systemic and systematic, in the care system and in Irish society, and that their experiences were particular to them…

…Like other mixed-race Irish children in the mother-and-baby homes, she was never offered for adoption. She believes this was policy, based on a presumption that nobody would want to adopt a mixed-race baby. Instead she was fostered, or boarded out. “When I was four I was sent to a couple in their 60s. No, they weren’t vetted. They were invited to select a child. People were paid by the State to take in children. This couple had no pension, and I was an income source.

“The woman was vicious. I have a clear memory of fearing the gardening gloves, because she would go and cut branches from the rose bushes and cut the flowers off. She called me filthy and nasty and would strip me naked. I was four, remember, and she would whip me with the thorns. Years later I still had scars on my back, buttocks, stomach, legs, arms and soles of my feet, but not my face,” Adaser says. “The whippings were so bad I was hospitalised. After 18 months I was returned to St Patrick’s.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Christine Buckley helped shift cultural axis on child abuse

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, Religion, Social Work on 2014-03-13 18:58Z by Steven

Christine Buckley helped shift cultural axis on child abuse

The Irish Times

Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent

From Broadstreet.ie

Those who insist that history is about movements not individuals might reflect on the achievements of Christine Buckley.

Her story is history as driven by one person. She was an original, a pioneer in exposing how badly this State “cherished” many of its children, whatever their age, throughout most of the 20th century, up to 1996 when the last Magdalene laundry closed. If a high point of much of her work was then taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s 1999 apology on behalf of the State to all who had been in residential institutions as children, as well as his announcement then of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Ryan Commission) and the setting up of the Residential Institutions Redress Board, it was not all.

It is no exaggeration to claim that such huge shift in the cultural axis of Ireland, made possible by Christine Buckley, paved the way for the Murphy Commission which investigated the handling of clerical sexual abuse allegations in Dublin and Cloyne dioceses, as well as the McAleese committee which investigated the Magdalene laundries…

…Her own story, as we now know, was in many ways typical. Through its telling she liberated others to do likewise, and not just from an institutional context. Writing in this newspaper in 1997 she recalled: “My mother lived within 20 minutes of the orphanage where I was placed as a child. I never knew it. Nobody seemed to know it. After a two-year courtship she took the baby boat to England in 1946 to hide, to wait and to give birth to her dark secret.

“She forgot to tell my father that she was separated from her husband. She forgot to tell him she already had children, one of them in an institution. Two weeks after my birth we returned to Ireland. My father refused to support her. The following day she placed me with, an adoption agency, vehemently refusing to sign the adoption papers and nobody asked her why.

“Guilt ridden, my father tracked me down six months later in a baby home. For six years he was the pivot of my life until one Saturday he never came back.”…

…Her campaign began after she met her birth mother for the first time in 1985. Three years later she travelled to Nigeria to meet her father. She “told him about my life in Goldenbridge . . . and how I intended to go public about the horrors of that place once he returned to Ireland to meet my children.”…

Read the entire article here.

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